Etcha A Mania - Politics 2012 goes something like this: An offhand comment about a children's toy from a campaign adviser in the morning leads to a sort of viral social media mania before noon.
"Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again," said Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom on CNN just after 8 a.m. ET.
Both of Mitt Romney's rivals had Etch A Sketches at campaign events today, a rival communications director was handing them out for free in Maryland.
The company that makes the toy said it was happy for the attention - "SHAKING up the national debate."
There were multiple mocking Youtube videos before the banks closed. Reporters were looking into the manufacturing practices of the Ohio-based maker.
By 5 p.m., Romney was responding: "The issues I'm running on will be exactly the same," said Romney. "I'm running as a conservative Republican, I was a conservative Republican governor, I'll be running as a conservative republican nominee, excuse me, at that point hopefully, nominee for president. The policies and positions are the same."
But can a Twitter hashtag on an aide's remark and a ready prop do real damage? Will the Etch A Sketch be like the flip flops Republicans used to goad John Kerry in 2004?
Team Coverage - http://abcn.ws/GEkSFA
Or will it have a Twitter-length Half Life - This is not the first gaffe to surround the Romney camp this year. Remember all these? http://abcn.ws/GDt2dG
The Etch A Sketch incident perhaps took off because even though the campaign has been intimating and flat-out saying for some time that there would be a reset period when they turned to face the general election, the idea of the same being true for issues speaks to everything many conservatives fear about Romney.
Party bigwigs said today the time for those questions is over.
Jeb Goes for Romney, Says Party Must Coalesce - (take out the words Jeb and Bush and this is like a former governor endorsing the candidate who won his state weeks after the fact). But he is a GOP heavyweight and his argument that Republicans must rally to Romney will be a powerful one, if somewhat delayed by that shaking sound. http://abcn.ws/GCBptK
Meet Annette Simmons, Woman Who Put $1 Million Toward Santorum - Elizabeth Hartfield talked to her today - http://abcn.ws/GEyive
Illinois Undercard - In case you weren't paying attention to it yesterday, the undercard in Illinois was pretty interesting thanks to redistricting - John Parkinson: http://abcn.ws/GESc0a
Obama to Expedite Keystone, Which He Earlier Iced - Dwyer: "During a visit to Cushing, Okla., on Thursday, President Obama will announce an Executive Order requiring expedited permitting and review of "vital infrastructure projects," including the southern portion of the controversial Keystone pipeline. The order will establish a multi-agency task force to identify the most urgent projects by the end of April and create a roadmap for permitting them by the end of May, the White House says." http://abcn.ws/GDRBYy
Dr. Ron Paul Prescribed Birth Control - He's run to the right on the issue of abortion, but he said last night that even emergency contraception shouldn't be outlawed, and he compared it to a surgical tool. http://abcn.ws/GJOXAP
Cold Exit Polls - Gary Langer Looks at how Broad-Based Was Romney's Illinois Victory - "Clearly Romney had a big win in Illinois. But there's room for debate about how broadly based it was. While Romney won conservatives and Protestants, in reality there are distinctly different kinds of conservatives (very vs. somewhat) and Protestants (evangelical vs. non-evangelical) within the Republican electorate. Romney lost very conservative voters, he lost evangelicals, and he lost related groups (e.g., those strongly focused on shared religious beliefs and very frequent church goers). Similarly, he won Tea Party supporters, as Fehrnstrom notes, but on the strength of people who support the movement "somewhat." Strong supporters of the Tea Party split evenly - Romney 42 percent, Santorum 41, well within sampling error." - http://abcn.ws/GIJ7mF
Rick Perry's FB Page 'Bombed' With Questions About 'Lady Parts' - http://abcn.ws/GHGXiw
Obama Signs Thank You to Deaf Supporter - http://abcn.ws/GLudJB